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Redvers Buller. The right hon. Gen-| right lion. Gentleman went back chiefly
MR. SEXTON: Ten years. pointment because he differed from the MR. A. J. BALFOUR: I do not know policy of Her Majesty's Government. at what period of the right hon. Gentle[Sir William HARCOURT dissented.] The man's career he learnt his law. I beright hon. Gentleman, at least, suggested lieve that is a subject on which biogra. that. Now, I think it is extremely in- phers of the right hon. Gentleman have expedient to drag into debates in this had many searchings of heart. At all House the opinions of permanent offi- events, about one fact there can be cials; and I am not going further to no doubt, I presume. It is not discuss Sir Redvers Buller's opinions since 1881 that the right hon. Gentlemore than to say this—that I know no man learnt his law. It was in the man who would hesitate less to leave the earlier stages of his distinguished career service of any Government of whose policy that the right hon. Gentleman devoted he disapproved. Sir, I have acted during himself to those legal studies the fruits the whole time I have been in Office in of which he has given to the House this absolute and entire harmony with Sir evening. I confess that I was surprised Redvers Buller on every single point of while the right hon. Gentleman was administration that has come up for dis- dealing with all these precedents, and cussion.
showering upon us quotations from Fox MR. SEXTON: Has he resigned ? and Eldon, that he did not go to more MR. SPEAKER: Order, order! recent experience and deal with prece
MR. A. J. BALFOUR : He has not dents which are in the recollection of resigned; but, as the House has long many hon. Gentlemen opposite. Will known, his appointment was a temporary it be believed that under the Common one; and I regret to say that he desires Law powers which we have used in this to return to his duties in another office case, Mr. Forster, the right hon. Gentleunder the Crown—[Ironical laughter)– man himself, and the right hon. Membut, as I have said so much, lot me add ber for Mid Lothian, so far as my rethis--that if hon. Gentlemen suppose searches go, proclaimed no fewer than that Sir Redvers Buller's retirement 130 meetings? The right hon. Gentlefrom the office of Permanent Under Se- man says that we have based our action cretary in Ireland is due, in the slightest --that was his phrase-on the example measure or degree, to any difference of of the worst of men in the worst of times. opinion between himself and me, the The times from which we have drawn supposition is entirely and absolutely our precedents are the last 10 years ; baseless; and I give it the most un- those, I suppose, are the worst of times. qualified contradiction. I now proceed When I look for the worst of men, to the main substance--if I may call it where am I to find them, except on that substance-at all events to the main Bench where still sit the relics of that part of the speech which the right hon. Ministry ? Sir, the right hon. GentleGentleman has just delivered. He told man said that our ancestors before they us that we had had the impudence to proclaimed meetings waited until overt describe the doctrines of Common Law acts were committed. as justifying the action of the Govern- SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT: No; ment. I will pledge myself, in the I did not. course of a few minutes, to convince the
MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Of course, I House as to which quarter of the House do not wish to press the right hon. Genand to which individual in the House tleman on any point which he disputes, the term impudence is most properly to and as to any phrase which he says he be applied. The right hon. Gentleman did not use; but I certainly caught in has given us a very long and learned the course of the right hon. Gentleman's dissertation on the principles of law. speech the words "overt act” recurring. [An Irish MEMBER : You need it.] The Unless they had some relation to the
argument I alluded to just now, I do use an expression that he thought the not see in what connection the right hon. quotation I have just given to the House Gentleman introduced the phrase. referred to what was done under the
SiR WILLIAM HARCOURT: The Crimes Act of 1882. The right hon. words "overt acts," no doubt, were used | Gentleman was premature. The last in my speech; but the words were sentence I have readquoted from Mr. Erskine.
I do not
" It was upon that ground that meetings had think I used them myself at all. [Mr. been prohibited within the last two years in A. J. BALFOUR: Hear, hear!] They Ireland, and upon that ground alone occurred in a quotation from Mr. Erskine, shows conclusively that the action of his and what I said, or what I intended to Government with which at that time he say, was this-it must either mean an was concerned to defend was taken, act of riot at the meeting, or an act per- not under the law of 1882, but under petrated at the meeting which made the Common Law. disturbance of the peace at that meet- MR. PARNELL (Cork): How many ing probable and imminent, rather than of the 130 meetings were proclaimed consequential.
under the Common Law ? MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Now, Sir, I MR. A. J. BALFOUR: All. They will deal with the method upon which were not proclaimed under the Statute the right hon. Gentleman's Government of 1882. I will take up that interrupapplied that principle in a few moments. tion. The right hon. Gentleman has In that
connection I should like to read drawn, or has attempted to draw, a wide to the House the views of the right hon. distinction between the action of the Gentleman, expressed in 1883, on the Government subsequent to 1882, when subject of public meeting
they had Statutory powers, and their "Public meetings,” said the right hon. Gen. action before 1882, when, as I have tleman, "might no doubt be considered as a said, they proclaimed no fewer than 130 source of light; but they ought to have some meetings under the Common Law. I was carried and it would be the height of say, Sir, that no such distinction can be recklessness to carry a light in the form of a
drawn. The right hon. Gentleman naked candle into a chamber filled with explo- appears now to hold that the Governsive material.”
ment, in taking Statutory powers in I want to know what meaning is to be 1882, meant to deal with public meetput upon these words if they do not ings on a different principle, and not mean that the general condition of the merely under a different procedure, from district and the country in which the that used before. That view is directly meeting is held are a ground for pro- contradicted by the statements made by claiming it? If the right hon. Gentle the Government of that day, including man, however, is not satisfied with that the right hon. Gentleman himself and quotation, I will give him another. The the right hon. Member for the Bridgeright hon. Gentleman has been loud in ton Division of Glasgow (Sir George his announcements that we dare not deal Trevelyan) when they were dealing with with England as we dealt with Ireland. the clause in the Act of 1882 under I take the view that the condition of which they took those exceptional StatuIreland renders different treatment tory powers. What did the right hon. necessary. Does the right hon. Gentle- Gentleman say with regard to this clause man dissent from that view ? Apparently under which he thinks a distinction can he does. He did not dissent from it be drawn between actions subsequent to six
years ago. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: 1882 and actions before that date. He Hear, hear!] On June 15, 1882, the saidright hon. Gentleman said
“ As regarded the first part of the clause, it "Everybody knew that the feeling of the was only intended to confirm and sanction community in England was on the side of the what had been done and what was being done. law, and therefore meetings might be held With regard to the second part, it was in. without danger in this country which would tended only to give a more summary and com. be altogether unsafe under the present condi- plete power of stopping public meetings. It tion of Ireland. It was upon that ground that must, therefore, not be supposed that now, for meetings had been prohibited within the last the first time, the stoppage of public meetings to years in Ireland, and upon that ground was suggested.”—(Ibid 1,321.) alone." - (3 Hansard,  1290.)
I may be wrong, but I think the right I have heard the right hon. Gentleman hon. "Gentleman will be very careful in future as to how he scatters epithets in our action, but whether we have been about. If the right hon. Gentleman politic-whether, in other words, the thinks that quotation insufficient I will powers which we undoubtedly possess give him another. This quotation is under the Common Law are powers from a speech of the right hon. Member which we ought legitimately to have for the Bridgeton Division of Glasgow, exercised in this particular case. The who said
right hon. Gentleman appears to sup" It (the clause) did not create a power, but pose that the Government is not justi
. gare a statutory power, which, under the clause, fied in concluding, until there is abso. in certain cases, would replace the power that lute proof, that a meeting will turn existed, and which, under present conditions, out to be illegal. But there never can might lead to a collision that all would be proof of that. If you required deplore."
proof of it you would have to obtain an So that the sole ground on which the Executive endowed with absolute fore. Government of that day justified them- knowledge. There must be an element of selves in asking for those powers was conjecture in these things; and, more. not that the powers themselves did not over, you cannot judge, and never have exist, but that it was expedient to supply been able to judge, solely by the avowed the Executive with an easier and more objects of a meeting. I admitted the merciful method of exercising those other day, and I repeat it now, that the powers. Therefore every single prece- avowed objects of this particular meeting dent set by Lord Spencer under the Act were innocent. They were innocent si of 1882 is a precedent applicable to this far as the placard calling it is any indicase, so far as policy is concerned. I do cation. But if we are to assume that not know that I need labour that point; merely by issuing an innocent placard but, if necessary, I can multiply quota- the Common Law is rendered impotent, tions. But there can be no doubt what it is clear that the powers of the Common ever that the account I have given of Law on which the right hon. Gentleman the Act of 1882 is right; and in order relied when he was in Office would be that I may have support in that view perfectly useless; and the fact that the from all quarters of the House, I should avowed objects were innocent, and that like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to you cannot tell to a certainty what the refer to a speech made by the hon. action of the speakers would be, is not Member for West Belfast. The hon. a sufficient ground why the Executive Member for West Belfast, in the debates should abstain from using the powers upon the Bill of 1882, made a violent confided to them. Then on what ought attack against the powers taken under the policy in the matter of proclamation the clause I have alluded to, and the to rest ? Sir, in my opinion, one of the sole ground for that attack was that the most important elements to take into powers in the hands of the Executive for account in deciding this question of prohibiting public meetings needed no policy is the condition of the district in strengthening, and that therefore the which the meeting is to be held. And Government were asking for superfluous in saying that I am only repeating texand unnecessary powers when they asked tually what has been held over and over for the powers given them by this clause. again by Lord Spencer and Mr. Forster, What the hon. Gentleman then said was and what has been brought forward that the powers already by Common Law over and over again as a justifica. in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant tion of the policy of both those Gentlewere ample for the preservation of men. Now, what is the state of Clare? law and order. Now, I take it I have Has the right hon. Gentleman who de shown clearly - first, that the Com- nounces us to-day for interfering with mon Law powers that we claim were freedom of speech looked into the con. supposed to exist by the right hon. Gen- dition of crime in Clare? I will not tleman himself six years ago, and that weary the House by a narration of the they were largely, I might say almost recent statistics of agrarian crime under extravagantly, used in Mr. Forster's which the county has suffered, ending by time under the direction of the right the shocking crime of which I gave telehon. Gentleman; and, therefore, the graphic information this afternoon; but only possible question that can now I may inform the House, without trying arise is, not whether we have been legal to prejudice their minds by harrowing
details, and relying on the bare figures, powers-at the time when he had Statuthat while Clare has only one-thirtieth of tory powers, but did not use them-was the rural population of Ireland, one-sixth a meeting convened to celebrate the of the agrarian crime has been committed memory of those criminals. Another within its borders. Its population is one of those mottoes was, “ Hurrah for the thirtieth of the population of Ireland ; women of Bodyke, who made such a its crime is one-sixth of the crime of glorious fight.” Now, Sir, what was Ireland, and its hateful pre-eminence in the glorious fight made by the women crime is not confined simply to agrarian of Bodyke? What happened at Bodyke crimes, for I find that one-sixteenth of was that the men, with admirable disthe total non-agrarian crime of Ireland cretion, in certain cases put forward the has been committed in that county. women to throw boiling water and vitriol Now, that alone, in my opinion, leaving on the officers of the law out of account the details of the out- MR. PARNELL: Who wanted to rages recently committed, is enough to shoot them. show that the Government ought to MR. A. J. BALFOUR: And it can
regard with the gravest misgivings the only have been to stimulate the inhet en calling together of any large meeting of habitants of the district to similar
an excited peasantry at a time when acts of atrocity that mottoes of that they know exciting speeches are likely description were distributed. There to be delivered. Was there any ground was another placard, which I believe for supposing that exciting speeches was torn down by the police, and conwould be delivered ? Who were the sisted of a design showing a British speakers ? I do not, of course, allude to soldier impaled on the pike of an Irish the hon. Member for Wednesbury(Mr.P. peasant, with the words—"Assemblo Stanhope), whose presence there we may in your thousands at Ballycoree, our assume to have been principally orna- Fontonoy.” As the House knows, in mental; but the operative speakers, the the readings of English history popular important speakers, were the hon. Mem- in Ireland Fontenoy is looked upon as ber for East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), and an Irish victory over English soldiers. the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Can anything be conceived more calcuDillon). Have the Government any lated to inflame the mind of an excited ground for supposing that the speeches peasantry, more indicative of the tone of those two Gentlemen would not be and the temper in which the meeting likely to lead to a breach of the public was called, than placards of the kind I peace ? Unfortunately, they had the have just read. And what was the chamost perfect ground for believing the racter of the actual speeches made ? I contrary, and they conjectured, as it maintain that the speech of the hon. turned out truly, what were the kind Member for East Mayo is alone sufficient of speeches they were likely to deliver to show that we were justified in the on this occasion. But the kind of speaker course we took. What did the hon. was not the only thing. Did the meeting, Member for East Mayo say? He saidso far as it may be said to have come off, bear out the conjectures which the assemble here to-day was this-we wanted to
“ One of the reasons why we asked you to Government had formed ? There are point out to you that men who like O'Callatwo principal methods of judging of a ghan's tenants at Bodyke faced the enemy and meeting. One is the kind of preparation suffered in the cause were fighting the battle, by which a meeting is ushered in, the not only of themselves, but of every tenant in
Clare." other is the actual speeches delivered. Now, there cannot be a doubt that Now I say, and I am sure the House placards and mottoes of an inflam- will agree, that that sentence by itself matory kind were used. For instance, was sufficient to excite every tenant in I find that one of the mottoes was Clare to defy the law, and to commit this—"Remember Allen, Larkin, and outrages after the manner of the unO'Brien." They are, as hon. Gentle- happy tenantry at Bodyke. The hon. men know, the criminals whom it is the Gentleman went on to say—“We will fashion in Ireland to describe as the hold meetings in Clare, and we will put Manchester martyrs; and it is a curious down land-grabbing in Clare." No fact that the only meeting which Lord method of putting down land-grabbing Spencer proclaimed under Common Law in Clare or elsewhere has yet been suggested other than intimidation and out- ling was a meeting against the law of the rage, and the man who gets up in Clare land. and says—“While I live there shall be MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Surely the no land-grabbing in Clare," says, in right hon. Gentleman, with his legal effect-and who doubts that he says in acumen, can see a distinction between a effect ?—" So long as I live I will take meeting which is called together to procare, by intimidation or by outrage, that duce legislation for altering the law land-grabbing shall not exist."
of the land and a meeting which is MR. DILLON: Mr. Speaker, I say called together to defeat the operathat that is absolutely false.
tion of the law actually in existence. MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Does the hon. The hon. Member for East Mayo bas Gentleman mean to say that the words constantly denounced what he describes themselves or my interpretation is false? as outrage-and, I believe, sincerely.
MR. DILLON : Your interpretation. We do not agree as to what outrage
MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Very well; means, because the hon. Gentleman that is a matter which I entirely leave never includes what I regard as the to the House. If the hon. Gentleman | very worst form of outrage-Damely, can show to the satisfaction of the j intimidation. But when the hon. House that any other efficient means Member speaks at a meeting like the of stopping land-grabbing exists than meeting at Ennis, and says that while he the two means I have mentioned I will, lives land-grabbing shall be put down, of course, not press that point upon the does he not know that he is doing all attention of the House. I may quote that in him lies, unconsciously, no doubt, some observations which the hon. Nem- and unwittingly, to promote the monber made, not on the day of the meeting, strous crime of the kind of which I gave but on the day before. What did the an account to the House to-day, in which hon. Member say? Speaking of the there was a conspiracy to murder a man Government, he said
for no other reason whatever than that "I will tell you the fear that is in the heart he took an evicted farm, and as a con. of these mon; they fear, and I hope, that the sequence of which three policemen, who Coercion Act has no terrors for the men of Clare, were doing their duty in protecting the and when the proclamation of the League goes victim of the intended outrage, were forth in Clare the League will continue to live injured, and one of them was killed ? Is in spite of the proclamation."
not that a comment on the freedom of That, no doubt, accurately represents speech of which the right hon. Gentlethe wishes of the hon. Gentleman, but I man has lauded ? say that such a speech made at Clare on Mr. DILLON: I rise to Order. I the day before the meeting is a perfectly think the right bon. Gentleman is presssufficient proof that one of the objects ing his argument beyond what is just in that the hon. Gentleman had in view in seeming to intimate that this crime is holding that meeting was to defeat the the comment upon what he calls freelaw of the land. [Sir William HARCOURT dom of speech, when he ought to rehere made some remark which was member that he denied freedom of inaudible in the gallery.) The right speech to me at Clare. hon. Gentleman really appears to sup.
MR. A. J. BALFOUR: The bon. pose that there is some analogy between Member says that I denied him freedom à Corn Law meeting and a meeting of speech at Clare. I will not argue which is by law an illegal meeting. that point now, but the contention of
SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT: I did the hon. Gentleman the Member for not do anything of the kind.
Wednesbury (Mr. P. Stanhope) was MR. A. J. BALFOUR: Well, per. that the hon. Gentleman made all the haps I misheard communications going speeches that he intended to make, and on between the right hon. Gentleman that in effect nothing was done whatever and his right hon. Friend
to destroy that freedom of speech so dear SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT: If the to the heart of the right hon. Gentleright hon. Gentleman will allow me, I man. Is it not absurd to describe meetwill tell him what passed. The right ings of this kind as meetings in favour hon. Gentleman said that it was a meet- of free discussion ? It is a cardinal ing against the law of the land, and I principle of English policy that you said that in old days a Corn Law meet- should submit to the propagation of